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What is the short-term let legislation?

The Scottish Government has introduced a licensing regime for short-term lets in Scotland. The scheme requires all local councils to establish a short-term let licensing scheme.

Please note that this web page includes a summary of the law relating to short-term lets. You should take further advice on how the law applies to specific circumstances.

Page last updated: 3 October 2023

1. Who needs a short-term lets licence?

If you, as a host, provide residential accommodation to a guest in the course of business, you might operate a short-term let. The new legislation will consider a property a short-term let if the guest does not:

  • occupy the property as their main home and they are not an immediate family member of the host
  • principally use the property to facility work or services to the host
  • share the property with the host as part of an educational arrangement



See if the legislation applies to your business

2. When do I need to have a licence?

  • Existing host / operator

    Those operating short-term lets before 1 October 2022 should have applied for a licence by 1 October 2023. You can continue to receive guests and accept bookings while your application is being determined.

    Operators who did not apply for a licence by 1 October 2023 must not take bookings, deposits or have guests to stay until a licence has been awarded. This includes businesses which establish new short-term let accommodation not covered by an existing licence. Please note the application process may take several months.

  • New host / operator

    New hosts starting a short-term let need a licence before they can start operating. You may advertise, but not take any bookings, deposits, or have guests to stay.

    This also applies to existing operators who establish new short-term let accommodations.

3. How to apply for a licence

You'll need to apply for a short-term lets licence through your local council. They have the information and application forms available on their websites.

Before starting your application, it's worth reviewing whether you need planning permission.

It's also good to check whether you adhere to the mandatory conditions set for every short-term let in Scotland. Please review the following steps to see how you can get ready.

Preparing for your application

  1. 1

    Review mandatory conditions

    There are mandatory conditions that every short-term let in Scotland will need to follow. These relate to the safety of the activity. Licensing councils can also set extra conditions according to local needs and circumstances.

    Find supplementary guidance for licensing authorities, letting agencies, and platforms on

    Read guidance for hosts and operators on
  2. 2

    Check if you need planning permission

    Local councils may also choose to designate short-term let Planning Control Areas (PCAs). This means that you need planning permission to let out whole accommodation in these areas. This is in addition to a short-term let licence.

    You may wish to contact your local council for advice if you are unsure whether you need planning permission.

    Read more about Planning Control Areas (PCAs).

  3. 3

    Contact your local council

    Local councils have information and application forms needed to apply for a short-term lets licence on their websites.

    Getting your application right first time will help councils in processing it and it may also help you to get a decision quicker. The timescales for determination are dependent on various factors including licensing council workloads.

    Your licensing council will set out the detail and format of any documentation that you need for your application on its website.

    View the full list of local councils on
  4. 4

    Pay the fee and await the outcome

    Local councils will charge a fee for making a licence application. Fees differ across local councils and for different types of licence, e.g. home sharing, home letting and secondary letting. If you need to apply for planning permission, there will also be a fee for making a planning application.

    Councils will generally have 12 months to decide on applications from existing hosts. They have nine months for applications from new hosts. But extensions are possible.

4. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

We know there are many questions related to this new legislation. That's why we’ve pulled some of the key questions – and more importantly answers – to make it a little easier for you.

Getting a short-term let licence

Planning permission

Other questions

5. Industry Advisory Group (IAG)

We're working with the associations who represent those affected by this legislation. In doing so, we formed an Industry Advisory Group.

Committed to working together, we've set out to ensure businesses have the most up-to-date information. This is in collaboration with the Scottish Government.

We want to help you through the process of applying for a short-term let licence or planning permission.

We’ll be updating this page so do check back.

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